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joyride

Constellation 11/20 Review, Part 1

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Review of Celebrity Constellation Thanksgiving Cruise - 11/20/04

 

This was my 12th cruise and my first cruise on Celebrity Cruise Line. I just turned 50 and my hubby is 46. Our past cruises include one on Carnival, two on Royal Caribbean and the rest on Princess. We wanted to try Celebrity for some time and this itinerary had what we were looking for.

 

Booking a cruise during Thanksgiving week enabled us to enjoy a 7 day cruise and only use 3 vacation days off work. The down side of this plan was that we were unable to spend any time in San Juan pre or post cruise. We flew a red-eye at 12:40 AM Saturday morning from SFO to Houston and then connected in Houston to San Juan. A real plus for us on these long flights was that we were able to fly first class using our frequent flyer miles on Continental. We were definitely more comfortable and able to hang out in the Continental President’s club during our lay-over in Houston. Our flight from Houston to San Juan was delayed a bit and we did not arrive in San Juan until 4 PM on Saturday.

 

Day One – San Juan

 

We bought Celebrity ground transfers and their representatives were at the airport waiting for us. I think I’ll hire a cab in the future because you don’t have to wait for them to get a whole busload of people before you can go. It did go smoothly and pretty fast. Embarkation was a breeze; there was no one at all in the Concierge Class line. Our check-in time took about 3 minutes!

 

The Constellation is a beautiful ship; our first impression was a classy feel with the glass elevators, golden drapes in the atrium, etc. I thought the champagne handed to you as you enter the ship is a nice touch. We quickly found our cabin and our room steward was there to introduce himself almost immediately. Our steward’s name was Fredy. He was excellent and always pleasant and accommodating throughout the cruise.

 

Our Concierge Class cabin (9051) was very pretty. The balcony was about the size we have had on other cruises, but the furniture was nicer. The table is a larger round table which is big enough to eat on (for 2 people) and there is a smaller table too. The two chairs are cushioned and sturdier than we were used to. This balcony on the Sky Deck was completely covered.

 

Fresh flowers and a bottle of Champagne awaited us in our room. There was a pillow menu where you could request isotoner, goose down, body pillows, etc. I’m allergic to feathers, so we asked for the isotoner pillows. The bed with duvet and pillows of our choice turned out to be very comfortable for us. There is a stocked mini bar refrigerator (not free) which I would have preferred to be empty. I would rather have the use of the refrigerator for my own soft drinks and wine. The sitting area has a loveseat and a table that had a fresh fruit bowl that was refilled each day.

 

The bathroom had fresh flowers (roses), plush towels and matching rug (pink one day and sea foam green the next). The shower was good sized and we found the water pressure to be really good – I like a hot and powerful shower. (One thing about the shower is that it is too narrow and the shower curtain kept clinging to the body while showering.) There is a built in hairdryer which worked quite well and room for all of our toiletries. They supplied conditioning shampoo, body lotion, shower cap, q-tips, cotton balls, and a mending kit. Also, 2 plush robes were in the closet for our use.

 

 

Once we unpacked everything it seemed we did have ample room for it all. We had brought snorkel gear and 2 cameras with equipment – so I wondered if it all would fit – but it did. Our large suitcases fit nicely under the bed and out of the way. All in all the room was comfortable, but I think the mini-suites on our recent Princess cruises are a bit more spacious – we found we did run into each other and there wasn’t much room between the end of the bed & the wall.

 

Once we checked out the room, we joined some of our cruise critic friends at the Mast Bar for a drink. The people that showed up were the main core people from our thread, and we met and then ran into each other several other times during the cruise. Next we headed to the Spa to make appointments. I booked a facial for late afternoon the next day and we booked a couple’s massage for Wednesday. Next, we decided to head to the Martini bar and try the Martini sampler that they were offering. We met the famous Constellation bartender “Sudi” who really is talented and fun to watch. We were pretty exhausted at this point (and a bit tipsy), so we skipped dinner and hit the pizza/pasta bar for a snack before the lifeboat drill. After the drill at 10:30 PM, we didn’t last too much longer. They had a Bacardi Mojito Sail Away Party on Deck, which I heard was really fun, but we were just too tired. My husband went to bed and I visited the casino for a little while and then joined him.

 

Day Two – Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic

 

We had signed up for the beach break that was originally offered at a private resort in the DR, but leaned that it was cancelled. At the last minute we booked a beach excursion to Catalina Island. After breakfast at the buffet we left the ship around 12:30PM and boarded a catamaran/ferry to take us there. The boat had its own crew, but there were also Celebrity staff onboard. The ride took about ½ hour to get to the island and the crew sold soft drinks and the local beer on the way over. It was $3 for a local beer, and it was a tasty pilsner type of brew. Upon arrival at the island there were beach chairs, umbrellas, etc. available at no charge, but we tipped the attendant who set us up. The Celebrity staffers set up a bar and wait service on the beach. There were also some locals with shops selling jewelry, crafts, beachwear, etc. The only negative was that there was NO food available at all. We stayed at the beach, which was very nice, for about 3 ½ hours. I’m glad that we had breakfast first, or we would have been starving!!

 

I visited the Spa for a late afternoon facial – which was wonderful. My husband visited the sushi bar on Deck 10. He had a nice pre-dinner sushi snack waiting for me when I returned to the cabin. We found the sushi to be quite good and enjoyed it several evenings on our balcony with a glass of wine.

 

We got off to an unfortunate start our first night going to late seating dinner. I couldn’t find the card that was in our room with our table assignment – so we went to the dining room and they had to look it up. This made us late for dinner and we were properly scolded by our new table mates and our waitress had even cleared our table settings away! Even so, we were extremely fortunate this cruise and had a great table; Pat and Elaine from Boston and Mark & Leigh from New York with their son & Leigh’s mom. We all got along well and had a lot of laughs. Our lovely waitress was Ansolette and she did a great job – we even celebrated her 25th birthday with her and shared her birthday cake at our table the last night. Dinners were very good with lots of variety. I ordered fresh berries and they were made available to me every night.

 

Following dinner our whole table went to the show together. Paul Boland “The Man of A Thousand Voices” was really good. He is a singer/impersonator and does a show similar to Danny Ganns in Las Vegas. I loved it – I laughed so hard at times that I cried! After the show we went to the casino for awhile. I found the casino staff on the Celebrity to be a really fun group of people. Overall I did pretty well there. I was a bit upset when I got a 4 of a kind playing Caribbean Stud Poker and the dealer didn’t qualify! I won $227 instead of over $900. But, hey, I still won!

 

Rod and I decided to order room service for breakfast on our sea day. I wanted fresh fruit and eggs benedict – so we just wrote on the card exactly what we wanted. We hung it on the door and hoped for the best!

 

Day Three – The only Sea Day

 

Our Steward Fredy called first to see if we were ready for our breakfast. He set it up for us on the balcony – linen tablecloth and all. It was awesome!! We ate sat out there in our robes and had a nice leisurely meal. The eggs benedict was very good!

 

Celebrity hosted a Cruises Critics Connections Party for us on the sea day at 10AM in Michael’s Club. Not too many others showed up, but it was nice. They served coffee and tea and the ship’s photographer took our picture. We met the social hostess and assistant cruise director. This was nice, but I think some people didn’t make it because they had spa appointments or didn’t want to give up their chairs by the pool!

 

Rod and I decided to check out the Thalassotherapy pool area. Wow! This was probably our favorite spot on the ship! It was quiet (no children allowed), with wonderful teak loungers, spas, the Spa Café, etc. The food at the Spa Café is the best. Rod wanted salmon and they grilled a huge steak for him. I tried the vegetarian tostadas and fresh fruit plate. It was so yummy! The pool is a trip with a wave action type of thing going on. We hung out in the pool for awhile and then got in a spa. It was very relaxing.

 

Next on the agenda for us was the blackjack tournament in the casino! I lasted 3 hands. The dealer had a 6 showing and I doubled down on a ten and got 15. He made a hand and took all of my money! I still had fun. Rod did better, but was still eliminated after the first round.

 

We decided to get dressed for formal night and then visit Sudi at the Martini Bar. We ordered caviar with all of the fixings and Cristiana Vodka (Sudi’s recommendation) on the rocks. It was so good! I honestly can’t remember what was on the menu for dinner – I should have taken better notes or drank less vodka. I do know that dinner ended with my fresh berries and a wonder crème’ brulee that was to die for!

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You are describing another one of those typical great trips. I am enjoying reading your review as I will be in Casa de Campo in February on the Mil.

 

John

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I can't wait for Part ll. My husband I will be sailing on the Connie for Christmas. Do you know what time they starting letting people board in San Juan? Also do you recall any of the movies they showed?

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sounds great and I look forward to both part 2 and our cruise 1-22-05. How was the other entertainment, other excursions or beaches etc ? Was the casino (craps table for me and slots for my wife) crowded?

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Entertainment - we just went to the impersonator and the comedy show. We aren't really into the other shows too much.

 

The Casino was crowded a couple of times, but we usually had no problems getting on a table or a slot. I don't play craps, but the table did seem pretty lively at times!

 

I'm pretty sure they started letting people on the ship around noon - not sure since we got there kind of late.

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Bremmerh,

 

We were on the Constellation the same time Joyce was. We were about the first ones on the ship, around 11:30AM.

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Thanks for answering on the boarding time! I wasn't sure about that one!

 

Joyride

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